The 10 Best MacBook Games
Your MacBook is capable of playing some incredible games.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Some compromises have to be made when playing games on laptops that focus on mobility first. This year’s latest and greatest are mostly out, but you can still play some killer games, even by today’s standards:
|Game||Name||Genre||Requirements||PC Metascore||Price range|
|GRID 2||GRID 2||Racing||✅ Low||80||$$$|
|SimCity 4: Deluxe Edition||SimCity 4: Deluxe Edition||Simulation||✅ Low||84||$$|
|Spec Ops: The Line||Spec Ops: The Line||Shooter||✅ Low||76||$|
|The Walking Dead||The Walking Dead||Adventure||✅ Low||89||$$|
|This War of Mine||This War of Mine||Strategy||⚠ Medium||83||$$|
|Total War: Shogun 2||Total War: Shogun 2||Strategy||⚠ Medium||90||$$$|
|The Sims 3||The Sims 3||Simulation||✅ Low||86||$$|
But before we continue, what games can be considered right for a MacBook? You should always carefully compare the game’s system requirements with your MacBook’s, but generally speaking, we’re looking at games that have:
- Low graphics card requirements: 256MB of VRAM or less
- Average CPU requirements: Intel Core 2 Duo processors or less
- Low RAM requirements: 1GB or less
This applies to MacBooks, MacBook Airs and old MacBook Pros. If you have one of those shiny new Retina MacBook Pros, you should be able to play much more demanding games.
The Best MacBook Games today
BioShock is a legendary game you should try, no matter how old it is.
The game takes place in the terrifying (yet beautiful) underwater city of Rapture. The thing is, the whole city went to hell and the few people still alive are mad and will try to kill you. Not to mention the atrocities you will encounter every now and then.
Yet BioShock isn’t a horror game. The atmosphere is terrifying, yes, but BioShock is so much more. It has a great story, good graphics, and fun gameplay mechanics. BioShock lets you combine guns with supernatural powers, creating an original and memorable experience.
Modern first-person shooters are usually not great for laptops because they are too demanding. But BioShock is old enough now to be played on a MacBook while still being considered a great game. Plus, it’s usually cheap. This all makes it a must-play, especially if you’re into first-person shooters and missed it the first time.
BioShock Mac System requirements: OS X 10.5.8, 1.6 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1.5 GB RAM, 8 GB HD space, NVIDIA Geforce 7300, ATI Radeon X1600, or Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 128 MB of Video Memory.
It may be a few years old now, but Bastion is still one of the most beautiful and original role-playing games out there.
Bastion is an unique RPG that takes place in a beautiful hand-drawn world. This game also features fun combat mechanics, floating islands and a good story. But Bastion became a classic thanks to something else entirely. Throughout the game, a voice will narrate your every move and will make you feels as if you’re watching a movie. Except you get to decide what the main character will do next. The narrator’s voice sounds great too, and can turn the most mundane fights into an intense affair.
Bastion is now one of the most famous indie games ever made, and in spite of looking great, it’s still a lightweight game that your MacBook will be able to run without a sweat.
Bastion Mac System requirements: OS X 10.5.8, 1.8 Ghz Intel Core Duo, 2 GB RAM, 1 GB HD space, ATI Radeon 2600, nVidia GeForce 8600 GT, Intel HD 4000 with 256 MB of Video Memory.
I know you’ve noticed how most games in this list tend to be either older games or platformers. They’re all great, but clearly compromises have to be made when you have limited graphics cards. Except GRID 2, which looks amazing and somehow can run on a MacBook (kudos to Feral Interactive for the port).
GRID 2 is an excellent, all-around, racing game. With GRID 2, you’re only a few settings away from either playing a tough, challenging simulation, or a fun and accessible arcade race. Or something in-between, as poor drivers like myself prefer to. No matter what, the impressive sense of speed will be there.
The game features real-world locations and a huge car selection. All is beautifully rendered and the physics engine makes sure that every car not only looks authentic but feels authentic too.
GRID 2 will never match a hardcore simulation like a Gran Turismo game, but if you want a game that makes you feel like a badass and looks great, this is the one to get.
GRID 2 Mac System requirements: OS X 10.9.4, 2.0 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM, 11 GB HD space, NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M, ATI Radeon HD 3870, or Intel HD 4000 with 256 MB of Video Memory.
Spelunky is one of the best deals you could ever find. Why? Because this excellent platformer is completely free (the original version, that is).
Spelunky is a cute 2D game that lets you explore caves, gather resources, and find treasure. But be careful, enemies and traps will stand in your way and the stakes will be high as the game features permadeath (if you die, you’ll have to restart from scratch). The gameplay is straightforward: jump, run and whip your way around the endless caves (generated randomly), and don’t forget to use those bombs and ropes to go even further.
Spelunky is an easy pick because it’s without a doubt one of the top free Macbook games you can find. Plus, it’s so easy to run, even the oldest MacBooks should be able to play it.
You can find the free version here.
The Walking Dead
Developer Telltale sure knows how to make an adventure game. Their takes on Game of Thrones, Minecraft, and Borderlands were all great. But their first The Walking Dead game is still the best.
The game takes place right at the beginning of the zombie outbreak. Nobody knows what’s happening but something clearly went wrong. Soon , zombies are everywhere and you’ll have to work with other survivors to make it. Except the game will put you in tough situations, forcing you to make choices that will make and break your relationships. Every decision will have a consequence and your chances of survival vary accordingly.
The gameplay is limited to pointing and clicking, but that’s because The Walking Dead focuses on stellar storytelling instead. The cartoonish art-style is also noteworthy. Firstly, because it looks great, but mostly because it makes The Walking Dead one of the best games for MacBook Air: light and easy to run.
The Walking Dead Mac System requirements: OS X 10.6, 2.3 GHz Intel 2 Core Duo, 4 GB RAM, 2 GB HD space, NVidia or ATI graphics card with 512 MB of Video Memory.
SimCity 4: Deluxe
Do I really need to introduce this classic? SimCity 4 is considered by many the greatest city-building game ever made.
With SimCity 4 you can create, manage and grow your own city. You’re in charge of zoning, construction, facilities, education, safety, city finances and more. This may sound overly complicated but it isn’t. I used to be obsessed with this game when I was an impatient teenager and had lots of fun.
SimCity 4 was the complete package back in 2003 and it was recently remastered and brought back to modern times by porting house Aspyr. Plus, as the latest SimCity was so horrible, SimCity 4 Deluxe is easily the best SimCity game available today.
As with all remastered classics, SimCity 4’s system requirements are low. Perfect for a MacBook or MacBook Air.
SimCity 4 Mac System requirements: OS X 10.8.5, 2.2 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM, 2 GB HD space, NVIDIA Geforce 8800, ATI Radeon HD 3870, or Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 256 MB of Video Memory.
Spec Ops: The Line
Specs Ops is the first game that came to mind when listing the best games for MacBook. Why? Because it looks great while still somehow having low system requirements.
The game itself is definitely interesting. This is not another me too military shooter, another Call of Duty copycat. For starters, this is a third person game, something we rarely see in a shooter. But the game is truly special because it tells a story unlike most warfare games. Spec Ops isn’t about a hero capable of killing hundreds of enemies to save the world. This game is about showing you that wars have consequences and take their toll on everyone. The message is important, but the game doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is an accessible game you can simply pick up and have lots of fun.
The graphics can look great if you play this game at max settings, but it can look surprisingly good at low settings, turning your machine into a true gaming MacBook.
Spec Ops Mac System requirements: OS X 10.7, 2.4 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM, 1.5 GB HD space, Geforce 9600 GS, Radeon HD4000 with 512 MB of Video Memory.
This War of Mine
This War of Mine is my go-to game when I’m on a plane. It doesn’t require a mouse, it’s fun (I can play it non-stop for a few hours) and runs great on my old 2013 MacBook Air.
This War of Mine is a survival / strategy game set in a warn-torn country. This game made a lot of noise when it was first released because it showed players something most war games forget: the civilian victims.
In This War of Mine, you control of a small group of survivors hidden in a ruined building. During the day, you have to make food, build basic tools to survive, and do your best to keep morale up. When night comes, you’ll have to send one of your survivors to scavenge nearby buildings. This is extremely dangerous and you can get killed, but it’s necessary to find food, medicine and supplies.
This is a dark game. The atmosphere is tense and the art-style certainly helps. Plus, the graphics look good while never requiring a powerful Mac to run. Perfect for a MacBook.
This War of Mine Mac System requirements: OS X 10.8, 2.0 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM, 6 GB HD space, Radeon HD 4670/4850/4870 with 256 MB of Video Memory.
Total War: Shogun 2
It was hard to choose only one Total War game. Rome, Empire, Napoleon, they’re all classics. But I decided to go with Shogun 2 because it’s the latest Total War game that has a properly optimized Mac version.
Shogun 2 takes place in ancient Japan. Several clans fight for power, but it will be up to you to reunite them and become the Master of Japan, the Shogun. As all Total War games, Shogun 2 combines two types of gameplay. The game is essentially a turn-based strategy game, allowing you to move your troops and make strategic decisions. A lot like Civilization 5. However, when two armies meet, the game becomes a real-time strategy game. And this is where Total War shines. You get to control a huge army with hundreds of soldiers at your disposal. Every battle is a challenging affair where terrain, tactics, and strategy play an important role.
Unlike Rome or Napoleon, Shogun 2 is a recent game that still looks great, even by today’s standards. In fact, the only reason MacBooks can handle it is because Feral Interactive did a great job with this port.
Total War: Shogun 2 Mac System requirements: OS X 10.9.4, 1.8 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM, 22 GB HD space, NVIDIA GeForce GT 120, ATI Radeon HD 3870, or Intel HD 4000 with 256 MB of Video Memory.
The Sims 3
Surprised to see the Sims 3 when the newer Sims 4 is also available on Mac?
Turns out, The Sims 3 is not only better suited for a MacBook (because of the lower system requirements), it’s also a largely better game.
The newer Sims 4 looks better and is, on paper, a more sophisticated and complete experience. But in reality, The Sims 3 is still better. The scope of the game is so big, The Sims 4 can feel like a limited experience. The Sims 3 supports mods, pets, a bigger open-world, vacations, college, and more. You will have to get additional expansions to enjoy everything it has to offer, but it will always be cheaper than buying The Sims 4’s expansions.
And by the way, the press agrees with me. The Sims 3 has a Metacritic score of 86 compared to the measly 70 points The Sims 4 earned.
If you want to experience a Sims game, The Sims 3 is your best bet. I wouldn’t even call it a compromise, as it plays better on a MacBook and is more fun than the newer The Sims 4.
The Sims 3 Mac System requirements: OS X 10.1.7, Intel Core Duo, 2 GB RAM, 6.1 GB HD space, ATI X1600 or Nvidia 7300 GT with 128 MB of Video RAM, or Intel Integrated GMA X3100.
When looking closely at the massive catalog of Mac games, turns out there are several great games that you can still enjoy, even if you have an aging Macbook.
I certainly hope these ten games will convince you that your MacBook is much more capable than you initially thought. And as always, if you’re still on the fence and fear buying a game that won’t work, get started with some of the best free games for Macbook on over here.
Did I miss another Mac game suited for MacBooks? Let me know in the comments section.